BENSONVILLE, Ill. – The Purdue University Northwest softball team picked up its first conference sweep of the year Saturday, defeating host Robert Morris Illinois by scores of 9-7 and 5-1 at Liberty Field in Bensenville, Ill.
The Pride (14-15-1, 4-4 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference) needed extra innings to top the Eagles (4-17, 2-7) in Game 1, winning in eight innings. Game 2 was more in control for the visitors, as PNW jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning.
Junior Kyleigh Payne (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bishop McNamara) was perfect on the day, finishing 7-for-7 with four RBI, three runs scored and a double and senior Caroline Brown (Minooka, Ill./Minooka) picked up both victories on the day to improve to 6-5 on the year.
PNW returns to action Sunday, when the Pride host CCAC foe St. Xavier for a twin bill at Dowling Park’s Fifth Third Field beginning at 1 p.m. CT.
GAME 1: PNW 9, RMU 7, 8 innings
Sophomore Tessa Steffens (Litchfield, Ill./Litchfield) delivered the game-winning hit in the top of the eighth inning and senior Allyson Leach (Demotte, Ind./North Newton) added an insurance run with her RBI hit to lift the Pride to a big Game 1 win in extra frames.
After trailing 2-1 through four innings, PNW exploded for six runs in the fifth, bolstered by a three-RBI base-clearing double by Kyleigh Payne (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bishop McNamara) and Holly Pagan’s (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) two-run home run that would give the Pride a 7-2 lead.
But Robert Morris didn’t give in, as the Eagles had a five-run inning of their own in the sixth on six hits to tie the game at 7-all. RMU had a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on third, but PNW’s Caroline Brown (Minooka, Ill./Minooka) ended the threat by striking out the final Eagle batter.
Steffens proved to be the hero in the top of the eighth after Payne singled to left and then moved into scoring position on a Pagan sacrifice bunt. Steffens doubled to score Payne, and then scored herself when Leach singled to right center.
Brown then closed out the Eagles side 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning to seal the win.
Payne was a perfect 4-for-4 with four RBI, Pagan finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and a home run, senior Hannah Lopez (Granada Hills, Calif./Bishop Alemany) went 3-for-4 with a run scored, Leach was 2-for-5 with two RBI and Haley Loden (Crown Point, Ind./Lake Central) was 2-for-4 with two runs to lead PNW’s offense.
Brown picked up her fifth win of the year in relief, pitching the final two innings while allowing just one hit and striking out two.
GAME 2: PNW 5, RMU 1
PNW opened the scoring in the third with a run on a Haley Loden RBI groundout to score Lauren Maynard (Griffith, Ind./Griffith), who doubled.
RMU would tie it up in the bottom half of the inning but no matter, as PNW would add two more runs in the fourth on a Maynard two-RBI single to left center. Taylor Kotzo (Munster, Ind./Munster) singled in the fifth and later scored on an RMU Eagle to make it 4-1 Pride.
Holly Pagan’s RBI single through the right side gave the Pride their final run, as PNW won its third-straight game after taking Friday’s nightcap over Olivet Nazarene.
Caroline Brown came back to pick up her second win of the day, throwing all seven innings, allowing just five hits and no earned runs and striking out six in her sixth win of the year.
Payne finished 3-for-3 and Maynard was a huge spark in the lineup, going 3-for-3 with two RBI and a double.